We’re back into the mire once more dear reader. Again we meet, wading through the murky swamp of television, praying that everything is what it appears to be and not something that will drag us under. That the log is a log and not a crocodile. That the obscure show with an exciting premise is exactly that and not a Dexter in disguise, seizing hours of our lives in its mundanely jaws and chewing them up into the mulch of wasted potential. But enough with the awkward metaphors. Onwards into the land of “when the hell did they make that?”
Hang on, there’s a TV show based on Get Shorty? And it stars Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano? Why did nobody tell us about this? Weird, right? The logical conclusion is that it’s a giant old piece of poo if it went that unnoticed. Not so, not so at all! In truth, there is very little intersection between Barry Sonnenfeld’s film of Elmore Leonard’s novel and this loose adaptation. The basic premise of a criminal trying to connive his way into the film industry via a washed-up producer remains, but most of the rest of it is new. Chris O’Dowd, thankfully not doing an American accent, takes the John Travolta role, now an Irish low-level hitman for a Mexican cartel matriarch, while Romano stands in for Gene Hackman as the small-fry producer. The obvious comparisons are Fargo and Justified, but while Get Shorty hasn’t quite reached those levels yet, it’s early days and it’s a hugely entertaining and undemanding watch. A shout out to Sean Bridgers who is an absolute joy to watch throughout, playing his sidekick like a slightly more aware and exasperated version of Johnny from Deadwood.
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
Justin Simien’s film Dear White People is one of the best socially conscious comedies that nobody watched. It would be an absolute crime if his Netflix series suffers a similar fate. The premise is identical, but the cast has been almost entirely replaced. Standing in for Tessa Thompson is a daunting task, but Logan Browning is just perfect as Samantha White, the host of controversial radio show ‘Dear White People’ on campus radio at the fictional Ivy League Winchester College. Expanding the film into a series allows Simien the opportunity to delve deeper into the complex race issues and spend more time with the supporting cast, resulting in a timely and extremely funny show that addresses race better than any other show out there.
When word circled about Jemaine Clement creating a TV series based on beloved characters from his past, this probably wasn’t the one most people were hoping for. And while it’s not Flight Of The Conchords, this low-key return of Minogue and O’Leary – the scene-stealing cops from What We Do In The Shadows – is one of the most relentlessly and brilliantly funny comedies on TV at the moment. Even just the first five minutes of the first episode are wall-to-wall deadpan hilarity, as Minogue and O’Leary unwittingly stumble upon a possessed girl on the streets of Wellington. Major props to Maaka Pohatu who just slays as the police chief. Watch out for a more direction TV adaptation of What We Do In The Shadows on FX, plus the perfectly-titled feature sequel, We’re Wolves.
If Narcos was more interested in the socio-political fallout from cocaine than in the derring-do of Escobar and his pursuers, it might have looked more like Snowfall, John Singleton’s fascinating examination of the 80s crack cocaine epidemic, told through three stories that slowly blend together. Brit youngster Damson Idris steals the show as a young weed dealer who gets drawn in over his head after a chance encounter with a big-time drug kingpin, while a disgraced CIA agent and a Lucha wrestler are similarly drawn under the drug’s corrupting influence. The first season hinted at serious promise and the recently launched second season looks set to deliver on that potential.
Just go watch Counterpart. Don’t bother reading anything I have to say about it or watching the trailer. Just watch it. It’s probably the most underrated show of the last two years and trying to describe its twisty premise of parallel worlds, doppelgangers and shadowy government agencies just doesn’t do it any justice. We complained in our Emmy nominations coverage about JK Simmons not being nominated for this and it’ll take all of one episode for you to realise why we were so put out. This is prestige drama at its finest. So, why are you still here?